The reentry of Irish beef into the Chinese export market is not something that’s possible to have a clear timeline on, according to Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue.

However, Minister McConalogue said that engagement with Chinese officials continues and that “every effort is being made”.

He said “we believe that, obviously, we have the conditions in place and the platform in place to merit re-entry” and that he hopes “we can do that in future”.

Minister McConalogue made the comments while speaking with the Irish Farmers Journal on Tuesday in Dubai during Bord Bia’s trade mission to the Middle East.

Irish beef exports to China were suspended in May 2020 when a case of atypical BSE was discovered and triggered China’s export protocol. The suspension has continued during the almost two-year period since.


The Minister for Agriculture described how he and his Government colleagues are “continuing with engagement at Government level and diplomatic level” to try to secure access to the Chinese market for Irish beef.

He said: “I’ve had numerous engagements with the Chinese ambassador at a local level and also we’ve had engagements between the Taoiseach and the [Chinese] Premier there at head of government level as well.”

He highlighted that Irish beef exporters had “made good progress” in China since the market originally opened up.

“Companies had had good engagements there, had built up relationships and that has been disrupted by the fact that we haven’t had market access over the last while,” he said.


Minister McConalogue noted that China is becoming even more developed and said “families will have better disposable income in the years ahead”.

“There’s going to be real potential there in terms of increasing beef consumption and if we can ensure we have even a small share of that, it could have a significant impact on our potential to sell and develop a real meaningful market for beef,” he said.

Sheep meat

Elsewhere, when asked by the Irish Farmers Journal about the status of Irish sheepmeat access to Saudi Arabia, Bord Bia global business development director Ailish Forde said: “We’re still in negotiations, while hoping the Minister will be able to move that on while he is in Saudi.”

Minister McConalogue left Dubai on Monday for a series of meetings on Irish food exports to Saudi Arabia.

Speaking on Irish sheepmeat access to the country before his departure, he said: “I’m meeting with the Saudi agricultural minister tomorrow and I hope to have engagement around that. It’s a really important market in the Gulf region.

“Sheepmeat is something we’ve been working on for a significant period of time so we will continue to seek to meet progress on that.”

Read more

Brazilian beef back in China

Irish food is world-leading and renowned – McConalogue

Milking 10,000 camels in the Dubai desert